Originally Published in The Contra Costa Times
July 4 marks the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain — an independence spurred by the need for freedom of religion. Similarly, many Muslims come to the United States to flee persecution they face in their lands.
Such is the case, for instance, of the Ahmadiyya Muslims who emigrate from Pakistan. While this sect of Islam considers itself to be Muslim, the hard-liners refer to it as heretic. In appeasing those hard-liners, the Pakistani government has stripped the Ahmadiyya Muslims of all basic human rights. Similar is the case of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
July 4, therefore, gives Muslims of all sects an opportunity to celebrate their freedom of religion and unite to work toward strengthening America.